0.0. In Lieu of the Lord’s Prayer, I Offer Some Zen Koans
As many of you know by now, Onyango Oloo does not worship the Living God.
Nor does he bow down to Baal, or any of the frisky horny, multi-limbed Hindu gods and goddesses dotting the intricate facades of the erotic temples on that populous sub continent.
Truth be told:
I stopped searching for my non-existent soul eons ago.
But there is something to be said for meditation and personal reflection.
As I grow older, I become more and more attuned to various aspects of what makes up the core of my multi-layered inner and outer being.
There is a place in all of us, long claimed by organized religion that makes humanity to seek an essence higher than humdrum existence.
Some people call it a quest for the elusive, ethereal spirit; the religious among us are convinced they are deep mining for the deity within and above.
As a Marxist-Leninist, on the other hand, I recognize the very earthly and material origins of this life long journey.
For are revolutionaries not the greatest idealists and dreamers?
We visualize societies yet unbuilt and even when we are sitting in our solitary cells or tossing and turning in uncertain exile, we are already singing the victory songs and penning the pronunciamentos to be declared on the day REVOLUTION catches on like an unstoppable cleansing fire driving away vice, cant and political mice.
As a man I have seen how corrosive is the cancer of unbridled machismo; the reckless braggadocio that deludes chest-thumping alpha males that they are invincible even as they ignore the warning signs of the massive coronary or the sneak prostate attack that will fatally claim them suddenly a few years down the road.
When I was sixteen years old, I read a Reader’s Digest (is that what it was?) article that showed compelling evidence that women tend to outlive men in many parts of the world- excepting those communities where women die earlier because of gender based systemic poverty and marginalization.
But in societies where men and women have roughly the same access to opportunities, women it would appear, live longer.
One reason that has been put forward is the female mindset which is totally different from the male one, inspiring authors of this planet to transport men and women to different philosophical and psychological “heavenly” bodies.
Unlike the testosterone infested breed of the species, the bulk of the insiders of the female Homo sapiens are not driven by the same ME ME First and Screw Everybody Else mentality.
Women tend to be more honest and expressive about their inner turmoil; tend to ask for and reach out for help and generally are much more grounded psychologically for the long haul.
And yes women DID NOT stubbornly wait for the invention of the GPS gizmos to avoid the ordeal of screaming out for help when they are lost in the depths of some Idaho wheat fields (if farmers in fact grow that cereal there still, unbeknownst to Monsanto and its GMO alternatives).
That is one reason why women outnumber men among my immediate circle of friends.
And you CAVE MEN, go ahead and call me a SISSY while massaging your MICROSCOPIC peckers.
Apart from all the foregoing gender wisdom, I think EVERYBODY can learn from the Eastern philosophies, particularly the non theistic systems like Buddhism.
Zen Buddhism fascinates me particularly and the Koans are more than a bit intriguing to me at least…
Reflect on these as we rev up for yet another digital essay take off.
I select Koans # 97, 6, 28, 5, 18, 3, 28 and 21 but you can have your pick:
1.0. Retracing a Fateful Train Journey on the Day I Was Arrested
On August 3, 1982, I boarded a Mombasa bound train from the Nairobi Railway station. It was sometimes after six in the evening.
This was only two days after the abortive coup by servicemen of the defunct Kenya Air Force.
That Sunday had started very strangely for me.
It was two days after I bid a steamy goodbye to my then Samia girlfriend Lois D who was leaving reluctantly for further studies in India.
I say reluctantly because I remember having to convince her to follow her father’s advice and go abroad for further studies- she had marched off on the Thursday before, abandoning her bewildered folks in town in the middle of some frantic last minute shopping to come and spend the night with me on campus, sharing my microscopic cot perched on the fifth floor of Hall 9 (Mboya) at the University of Nairobi- I lived in room # 513 with Henry Langat, a very amiable and soft spoken Commerce student- I wonder where he is these days…
Lois and I were two young Kenyans fiercely in love with each other back then and we had met through some mutual friends at the California Estate just three months previously.
We had been to movies together, shared Tandoori chicken and sumptuous chapati at that dainty little Indian Restaurant that used to be at the bottom of Koinange Street near Kenyatta Avenue.
Lois still lived at home and the one night she spent with me was an act of major defiance from an otherwise goody two shoes church going loyal daughter.
We always had to make sure that she did not miss the last matatu to her place- a couple of times I went all the way with her to make sure she got home safe.
I distinctly remember bumping into the late Titus Adungosi on State House Road near the hostels just before the St. Paul chapel and exchanging pleasantries with him.
Lois at that time lived in Kirong'othi Street in Eastleigh and on this Friday morning (July 30th, 1982) we walked leisurely along University Way, down Koinange Street to that place opposite the old Halian’s Night Club where you got the # 9 Mathree to akina Wood Street and other parts of Eastleigh.
I was a hopeless romantic even back then- shocking my teenage lover(she was 19) by kissing her hotly on the lips, in broad daylight in the gawking streets of Nairobbery.
I was not to see Lois again until July 1987 exactly five years later.
She was then working with a certain Ministry in a very well known tall building in the city which used to be green and near the sun…
After my release from Kamiti I had stayed with my family in Mombasa for a couple of months before coming to live with my auntie Joyce in Onyonka Estate (those sides of Langata Road and beyond) and I had made it my mission to seek Lois out. I therefore went to her parent’s home in Kirong’othi Street where one of her siblings told me that she was now a married woman who worked with Wizara Fulani around the corner from Garden Square.
When I finally tracked her down way up on the thirty second floor of that un-named building, she was pleasantly surprised to see me.
I chuckled and reassured her when she tried to mumble an “apology” for falling in love with a wonderful fellow Kenyan in India, told her not to worry and wished her happiness- she appeared to be in a very loving and successful marriage complete with rambunctious kids and great in laws.
She told me that she had only heard about my arrest via a letter which reached her weeks after she landed in India.
We made small talk and before you could say, “mshikaji wa zamani bado wapendeza sana”, her lunch time was over and she had to go looking for some files….
The thing I remember most about Lois is her warm, sincere smile and how her entire face lit up when she did that.
I cherish her brief entry into and exit from the ongoing soap opera that is my roller coaster existence on this turbulent planet…
When the Nation did a profile of me last year, they included a photo I took with Lois on the rooftop of Hall 9:
Where did the years go?
Like most university students I was woken upo n that fateful Sunday by with the sound of gunshots around the main campus just before dawn.
Peeking out of our windows we saw these smiling faces of these young men in blue uniform totting rifles and beckoning on us to come out and celebrate.
Given the unpopularity of the Moi-KANU regime among the Kenyan youth and students at that time, we did not need any prodding to start chanting Power! Power! Power! Pambana! Pambana! Pambana!
That sunny Sunday morning was surreal in many respects:
Knots of students gathered around the roundabout near St. Paul listening to one spontaneous student orator declaim how we students wanted a “government of intellectuals!”(observing the cruel charade of the present well educated NARC cabinet, we know Kenya needs more than eggheads to save her); a bizarre encounter on Harambee Avenue as naïve unarmed university students(I was among them) defied fully armed red beret donning GSU units to shoot them; Titus Adungosi pleading with over-excited students near the New Stanley Hotel not to loot; rich brats driving around in commandeered vehicles; later after the coup had been crushed, long, long faces at the CCU wondering worriedly about their fate; I remember having a very hushed conversation with this African- American post-graduate exchange female student I used to hang out with; remember a trip to “The Box” to check in with my fellow Mombasa residents Grace Waita, Flora Kamala and others; a restless Sunday night playing scrabble in Hall 9 as we fretted and fretted. The same night I was able to sneak out of campus to go to Hurlingham where my late uncle Walter Wandolo lived. He was quite stern with me and other students who had so rashly come out to celebrate the coup. Nevertheless, he was brave enough to drive me personally back to the university the very next day to retrieve my belongings- yes, everything including the newish blanket that tribalists and juveniles on the internet have manufactured an entire, envious myth about, claiming that a resident of humid Mombasa would be stupid enough to “loot” a THICK BLANKET to take to Mombasa- obviously these are ignorant upcountry rural folk who know nothing about the climatic conditions in the Coast Province.
Yes, where was I?
At the train station going to Mombasa.
The trip itself was uneventful, even though I was briefly arrested and then released in Nairobi by some jittery askaris, just because I was a university student boarding a train.
One of my uncles who worked at the station successfully intervened and I proceeded to board the train.
I remember traveling Third Class and moving from compartment to compartment in a train that was chock full with university students.
For most of the journey I was chatting with this Third Year BA student who was formerly at Allidina Visram.
And then we left Mtito Andei and were heading towards Voi.
Halfway to Voi, the Railway Police on board started with their inspections, demanding everyone’s ID and insisting that each passenger identify their luggage.
Their main preoccupation was to ferret out any “Air Force Rebels” traveling incognito.
Before I knew it, they were at our seat.
My friend fished out his national ID, saying nothing of his status as a student. Being more naïve I foolishly flashed my University of Nairobi ID and blurted out that I was a student traveling home to Mombasa.
That is when my world changed.
The cops became very hostile-demanding to see my luggage and asking sarcastically whether I was slated to be Foreign Minister if the coup had succeeded- in a way their stupid comments echoed the inane outbursts that I encounter daily on the www.rcbowen Kenya forum-same stupidity and stolidity.
What first got me in trouble were my two huge pieces of luggage.
I had this humungous suitcase full of my clothes and what not and this other gigantic carton box where I had hurriedly stuffed my text books, files, writing pads and magazines.
Covering the books and files was a bed sheet and the now infamous newish blanket that I had bought in MOMBASA when I first joined NAIROBI University.
Just like the freaks on RC Bowen the semi-literate cops asked me:
“Kumbe Uliiba Blanketi Nairobi?”
Now people who are familiar with my online jousts know that sometimes I can be slightly sarcastic and even a bit foul mouthed and this abrasiveness never fails to land me in hot soup.
I fired back:
“Afande, tafadhali tizama hii gari ya moshi yaelekea wapi? Mjinga gani ataiba blanketi kupeleka Mombasa? Watu wanalala uchi Mombasa kwa ajili ya joto!”
“Officer: please observe the direction where this train is headed. What kind of an IDIOT will loot a blanket to take to Mombasa? People in that town sleep practically naked because of the heat and humidity!”
That youthful outburst sealed my fate.
"Kijana utakaa kando. Macho Nne, Mbona wewe ni Mjuaji hivyo?”
“Step aside. Mr Four Eyes, why are you such a Smart Ass?”
The 3rd Year student practically disavowed me-but not before nodding vigorously to my plea that he should head straight to our home in Mombasa and tell my Dad that I had been nabbed.
Long story short, when the train arrived at the next station Voi, I was ordered out together with my belongings and marched straight to the railways police cells where I found almost a dozen other students arrested- on flimsy excuses such as not having a RECEIPT to prove that the watches on their wrists were indeed their own…
I probably would have been released the very next day, had they not start rummaging through the big carton box.
Strangely, because of their semi-literacy, they did not find ANYTHING WRONG with the thick volume of Das Kapital by Marx, the thin manual, “What is to Be Done? “ by Lenin or the text book looking “Dialectics of Nature” by Engels or even Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”.
As Kenyans, they were more scared on coming across Ngugi’s "Detained” and several position papers from the late Ooko Ombaka and the late Prof. Mkangi and the exiled Shadrack Gutto.
But even as politically dimwitted as they were, they knew that it was NOT illegal for a university student to be found in possession of legal position papers distributed publicly by well-known university lecturers-nor could they charge me with treason for buying Ngugi’s books.
It was when they were going through the contents of one of my three box files that they came across this draft of an essay that I had started in late June 1982 after the arrests of Willy Mutunga, Maina wa Kinyatti, Al Amin Mazrui, Edward Oyugi, Kamoji Wachiira and others.
Still a work in progress the essay (yes, ESSAYS have come to define Onyango Oloo’s political expressions) was tentatively titled “A Plea to Comrades.”
What caught their attention was my opening paragraph, which like many I have penned over the years usually has something catchy to ensnare my readers from the get go.
As far as I can recall, the first sentence went something like:
“On December 12, 1982, Kenyans will “celebrate” Jamhuri Day having successfully detained university lecturers and made our country a one party state...” or words to that effect.
Now did those askaris sit up and notice!
The rest of the essay talked about the role of students and youth in the struggle for democracy and freedom in Kenya.
My plea was to my fellow “comrades” (used in the sense of the slang we used on campus to refer to fellow students, not members of communist cells) not to turn a blind eye when our teachers were dragged from theatre halls to detention and to remain silent when people like Anyona and Jaramogi were hounded.
Bear in mind that I was still TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD, a university student in a very militant campus in Kenya at that time.
Would you be shocked if I told you that the cops REFUSED TO BELIEVE that this baby faced university kid could conjure and compose those incendiary words?
They immediately accused me of manually transcribing a passage from Pambana(that they had obviously NOT read) on the orders of one of my professors and PROMISED me a ten year sentence before rushing to radio Nairobi that they had just apprehended one of the chief suspects of the December 12 Movement!
As a self-respecting writer even back then, I took considerable umbrage at the allegations of plagiarism and vigorously insisted that it was I, Onyango Oloo who had authored that hand written draft and that as a university student enjoying academic freedom, this was perfectly legitimate.
By the time my father
(a former senior prisons officer)
arrived in Voi just before noon on August 4th, matters had progressed to the point where the Special Branch and CID folks in Nairobi were ordering that I be taken back to the Kenyan capital pronto.
My father’s parental pleas fell on deaf ears.
A day later I was back on the train, this time traveling Second Class with TWO ARMED police officers headed back to Nairobi…
The rest of my story has been told in the Kenyan press:
monday, november 1, 1982 around 10:30 am, after the sentencing, en route to kamiti to begin the five year jail term;
monday, may 11, 1987 at around 2:30 pm, about an a hour and a half after leaving kamiti, doing an interview in the newsroom of the old nation house on tom mboya street;
my paternal grandparents and my parents before they had any of us(my dad at 26 and my mom at 19)
mombasa, 1975; when my grandma doris awiti came to visit us;
mombasa, august 1975, as a 15 year old with my dad and other siblings;
my late kid bro john otieno oloo, a russo-kenyan friend, my late sis beatrice ombiro oloo and her daughter jacqueline; my late younger bro joseph ochieng oloo; beatrice with a friend; otieno living up to his reputation as coach for his kisumu soccer team; how i miss my three departed siblings!
my late father, richard achwal oloo and his younger brother wilfred at my sister janet's graduation ceremony, kenyatta university, 1986;onyango oloo(left,at the back of the picture) my sole surviving brother, washington oloo and my father's youngest brother wilfred oloo carry the casket containing my father's body out of our compound to the anglican church in luanda dudi for the final service on december 6, 1996, one hour and a half hours before he was finally laid to rest;
my little boy, sankie sankara, is now a teenager.
father and son at the caribana festival, toronto, summer 2001
And on at least one website:
2.0. Why Do People Fear
Two of the most VILIFIED names in Kenyan cyberspace circles are Onyango Oloo and Raila Odinga-for mostly TRIBAL and PAROCHIAL reasons.
It has been SHOCKING to contemplate and calibrate the depth of INSECURITIES that some GROWN MEN and WOMEN display when these two names are mentioned.
Since Onyango Oloo is NOT a billionaire, a tenured Ivy League Don or even a notorious POLYGAMIST like Okuku Danger, it is often perplexing to see the obsessive craze he has inspired among the bevy of GROUPIES who follow him anonymously from website to website flinging their freshly generated excrement at him.
Onyango Oloo is CLONED on an almost hourly basis.
Every TEN MINUTES on the www.rcbowen.com forum, there is SOMETHING DERANGED posted by a nitwit about him; it appears(although it could be a technical hitch) that some INTOLERANT forces at kikuyu.com have finally succeeded in BANISHING him from a forum where he has contributed since December 2000; on Africa-Oped and Kenya Online two of his detractors are unabashed tribal nincompoops who think they are way too CLEVER and too CUTE calling Onyango Oloo with the juvenile sobriquet “olow” or the racist epithet “kavirondo”.
Raila Odinga is of course LARGELY FEARED because he is the MOST EFFECTIVE POLITICIAN operating in Kenya at the moment.
He is also without a doubt one of the most POPULAR in the country.
A few weeks ago, the country’s media BLACKED OUT a story when he and Kalonzo Musyoka received a TUMULTOUS WELCOME by THOUSANDS of people in the Meru region, the home turf of Kiraitu, Muthaura and Mwiraria.
Two things connect Oloo to Raila-they are both LUOS who became EVEN MORE RADICAL after SPENDING YEARS BEHIND BARS AT KAMITI.
We each sought different paths to practice our politics-Raila immersed himself in the MAINSTREAM LEGAL and ABOVE GROUND National political organizing, while Oloo continued his long apprenticeship in the Kenyan socialist underground.
In many other respects, our ideological leanings are like night and day- Oloo is a Marxist-Leninist while Raila Odinga is a Liberal-Democrat; Raila sold his company to a Canadian multinational while Oloo is busy DENOUNCING Canadian multinationals…
But has that stopped the TRIBALISTS who FEAR LUOS more than they fear a bite from a tarantula or a vicious Indian cobra?
Of course not.
Oloo according to them is the LDP’s Chief Whip.
Raila according to these idiots CONTROLS the mind of every single Luo.
According to these jack asses, every time Oloo or Adongo writes something, it is on the express instructions of Agwambo Tinga Tinga-something that would surely startle the Langata MP who was so busy the last time I was in Kenya that I was UNABLE to see him DESPITE at LEAST THREE ATTEMPTS by Mwandawiro Mghanga who took me to Raila’s office to see the Roads and Public Works minister.
It appears as if it is a CRIME to rise to Railas’ defence if you happen to be a Luo- and especially if your name is Onyango Oloo.
In early 2003, I was kicked out of the Safari Lady web site, PARTLY because of this posting:
That is when I discovered that tribal IDIOCY is not confined to the male of the homo sapiens sapiens species.
At the very same time the same TWISTED tribal logic would INSIST that Only LUOs and especially Oloo should write about a MANUFACTURED CORRUPTION SCANDAL conjured up by a TRIBAL WAR LORD called Maina Kamanda.
I commented on this matter elsewhere and suggested that these tribal attacks were part of a bigger, stinkier RED HERRING to DIVERT attention from getting the crooked cabinet ministers fingered in the Anglo-Leasing scandal to resign.
In any case, I did not see WHY these chauvinists were targeting Luos to go after Raila Odinga when the same tribalists consider it anathema for ANY Luo to say ANYTHING positive about Raila Odinga.
I will comment more on this presently because I want to lay bare the machinations of these characters, having tolerated their attacks on various Kenyans forums for quite some time.
But before that, as expected Raila Odinga promptly responded to his critics within hours of his arrival back in the country.
Here are links from the three Kenyan dailies:
And this is what I was telling my critics:
Raila Odinga and Dr Oburu and the rest of the Jaramogi family are quite capable of responding to questions related to their business interests and certainly do not need a Kenyan living in Quebec to “defend” them.
And the “sketchy” agenda of anonymous hounds who are themselves INCAPABLE of “exposing” Raila Odinga but would insist that only Onyango Oloo is up to that task is quickly revealed when they yelp and yelp and yelp from the shadows of forums infested with bigots throwing turd, mud and vomited curd while keeping their apparently explosive dossiers on the so called “Molassesberg Scandal” a closely guarded secret accessible to select members of this or that tribe.
The way people like Maina Kamanda and his associates on rcbowen, mashada, kca-main, Kenyaonline, Africa-Oped and other forums have approached the question of alleged graft clearly demonstrates the difference between a genuine campaign against corruption and a vendetta driven side show.
Let me illustrate by talking about the Anglo Leasing scandal.
Away from the public discussion forums, I stay in touch with several key people in the Kenyan civil society sector.
At the forefront of these individuals is ONE PARTICULAR person whose real name I will not mention because I do not want to compromise this person who remains a valuable Nairobi based source with his ear very close to the ground.
Suffice to say that this individual is a leading executive of a very prominent graft fighting outfit.
And no, my friends, he is not a Luo, he is not a Luhyia and he is certainly not a Mswahili so stop jumping to your ethnic conclusions.
What I like about this person is the way he regularly provides me with concrete 411 from a variety of very hard to locate pay dirt that even the most intrepid investigative journalist would kill for.
And whenever he does this it is not about, “Oloo let us go after politician from Tribe X or Faith Community W or Race J or Region S or Political Faction Q because if that was the criteria he would not have shared some information linking individuals with whom he may or may not share some of the above attributes. It is without malice.
This morning, when I opened my email I found that he had responded to my inquiry about the Molasses plant by directing me to an objective, non- Kenyan source chock full of data that I am studying as we speak.
It is a professional joy to work with individuals like these who do not care how my first or last name is spelt and do not look at the ethnicity of the crooks they expose before they expose them.
There are at least a dozen people like that back home.
It is sincere and honest compatriots like those who spur me on- genuine democrats, genuine reformers, and genuine anti-corruption campaigners-people who will expose you in a heartbeat even if you are their first cousin.
Sad to say, very few of the so called leaders of the Kenyans in the Diaspora can live up to this benchmark.
Sad to say, Kenyans abroad seemed to be MORE CONSUMED with TRIBAL affiliations than the Kenyans at home.
While it is true that at home there is no shortage of chauvinists FROM EACH AND EVERY ETHNIC COMMUNITY AND REGION IN Kenya and in a sense since some of these bigots actually wield power they are more odious- but by and large, the Kenyan elite abroad are far more POLITICALLY BACKWARD compared to the villagers of Mwatate, Sagana, Kilgoris, Nyamira, Shimba Hills, Katse, Mazeras, Kibiciku, Karatina, Kajiado, Kabarak, Wajir, Isiolo, Lodwar, Migori, Ugunja, Lunga Lunga, Bura, Garsen, Makueni or Runyenjes.
3.0. Tracking Luophobia Among Kenyan Professionals Abroad
As someone who comes from a dual ethnic heritage, was born in the Rift Valley and grew up literally all over the republic among Kenyans of diverse backgrounds, and especially as a true son of cosmopolitan Mombasa, it has been very difficult for me to understand the tenacity, for instance, of Gikuyuphobia among some rabid Luos doing the post graduate studies in San Francisco-especially when said tribal bigots are in their mid to late twenties and live in , of all places, libera, open minded California on the outskirts of a city famous for its tradition of tolerance.
Nor can I understand the rationale behind the blind hatred for Kenyans of South Asian heritage among Kenyans who have been victims of racial profiling in Texas, New York, Toronto, Vancouver and other North American cities.
Equally, I am perplexed when I witness a fairly well adjusted Kenyan woman with above average intelligence living in the Washington DC area expressing what amounts to strident anti-Muslim rants-knowing how her own bi-racial background may have made her a target-as it did some of my own first cousins with a similar heritage.
Likewise when a Kenyan of South Asian descent repeats KKK lines when his own father in Edmonton was called a Paki in the late seventies and early eighties, then I just shake my head in bewilderment.
Last December, I referred to this phenomenon as the Inner Villager Syndrome- referring to the survival of parochial and simplistic ethnic reductionisms among Kenyan middle class transplants in places like New Hampshire, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Toronto, Leeds and elsewhere.
In retrospect I have realized I was wrong-but only because I was unduly harsh on the VILLAGERS.
As I have tried to argue above, Kenyan villagers are not this dense, backward, myopic and tribal. In 2002 when young Kenyans abroad were killing each other digitally to line up behind their respective ethnic chieftains, rural Kenyans all over Kenya had grasped the democratic imperative of uniting nationally behind the candidacy of Mwai Kibaki to defeat the Uhuru Project.
Initially when I was confronted by deranged tribal attacks from anonymous strangers, I used to assume that these were some ignorant kids who were raised by tribal wolves in the jungles of Ukabilaland.
Can you imagine my shock when I finally realized that these were not some gibbering primitive cave dwellers who thought that people who lived in the next mbari were their sworn enemies, but rather, HIGHLY EDUCATED KENYANS, some armed with four or five degrees; some, actual PROFESSORS with a mandate to PROMOTE ethnic and racial DIVERSITY in their respective campuses?
Can you imagine my disgust when I realized that some of these closeted tribalists were the VERY SAME individuals who would call me at home asking me to assist their friend so and so with their immigration matters by writing a support letter?
Can you imagine my disappointment when I realized that some of these ethnic hounds were two faced hypocrites who posed as Born Again Christians in public while practicing their ukabila in private?
Can you imagine my surprise when I found out that some of these individuals were former political prisoners and former exiles like me?
Can you imagine my amazement when I found out that some of these creeps used to be in the same underground Marxist oriented revolutionary movements like myself?
Can you imagine my disillusionment when I discovered that some of these closeted faceless tribalists on the rcbowen forum for instance ARE AMONG THE CURRENT LEADERSHIP of the KCA?
After recovering from my shock, disgust, disappointment, surprise, amazement and disillusionment, my immediate task was to FIND OUT WHY IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THESE BIGOTS TO HIDE THEIR HATEFUL TRIBAL FEARS, MYTHS, OBSESSIONS AND AGENDAS.
That task was made easier because I am now a “Canadian” in the sense that I have lived in this country for long enough (close to twenty years) to know how your average Canadian practices their bigotry.
Unlike their Uncle Sam relatives south of this border, Canadian racists and bigots are rarely overt and the few who are, quickly find themselves isolated.
And yet Canada is a DEEPLY RACIST COUNTRY.
How then does one explain the official veneer of tolerance and the actual lived reality of systemic racist oppression that people from the communities of colour undergo everyday?
I have one word for it:
Yes, the racists, sexists, homophobes, classists and ageists, lookists and ableists of Canada have their own abracadabra glossary of code words that they use to hide their prejudice and discrimination.
When they want to attack gays and lesbians for instance, they do not use crude words like “faggots” and “dykes”(those words have been reclaimed anyways). Rather they talk of “family values” and a “traditional definition of marriage”.
When they are rich people looking down on the poor, they do not call them “bums” and “losers”- rather they would borrow Bill Cosby’s term about “people from the lower income community”.
When they want to denounce people with disabilities fighting for accessibility to public buildings they will not call them “ungrateful cripples and stupid deaf mutes”; rather they will talk of the “unrealistic demands of special interest groups who have an unreasonable feeling of entitlement”.
When they want to call on the police to crackdown on INNOCENT Jamaican youth in Toronto or their Haitian counterparts in Montreal, they do not say “go after those ganja smoking coons of Jane and Finch or the Creole spitting niggers of St. Michel”; rather, they say something like, “we feel it is important to support the efforts of police chief Julian Fantino in his campaign to eradicate drug dealers, pimps and petty criminals from our inner cities”.
And I do need to unlock the passwords to the code words for human beings that are labelled "ugly" because they do not fit the Barbie and Brad Pitt profile or people who society consider to be “too old” or conversely, “too young” to matter.
Similar code words are employed by the sophisticated Kenyan tribalists abroad.
In a sense I actually prefer the raw, crude and foul mouthed tribal hecklers like “jmburus” “mboya rusinga”, “public eye” and “mûriraikihia” who will speak out candidly and honestly about their hatred for Luos and Gikuyus respectively. At least with them, you know what time it is. However I did catch one of these four individuals posing as a member of the ethnic community they detested in order to create a backlash against that community by their outlandish remarks. For a long time I was taken by that character until a dead giveaway made me nab this chameleonic miscreant. About a week after this minor detective feat, that particular tribal handle was “retired” from that particular forum. Online tribalism can be a very sophisticated digital hall of smoking mirrors to the unsuspecting internet newbies.
The truly detestable, slimy tribal lowlifes are the two faced hypocrites who pretend to be Wazalendo in public while organizing the equivalent of tribal oathing ceremonies in private.
For instance, you will find Mr So and So, Official of the KCA, to take a HYPOTHETICAL example. During the KCA Conference he will be out there, rallying the NATIONAL troops, speaking as a sincere patriot. But what some people may not know is that behind the scenes, he is up to his neck with the offspring of the hogs in the Kibaki cabinet scheming for ways to hop on to that overcrowded gravy train.
Another HYPOTHETICAL example. Ms. Nyamriambo Wang’etek helps in a very earnest fundraising appeal to deal with a community issue, say in Quebec. But then she calls Onyango Oloo kando and says something in Dholuo about not trusting all these Gikuyus.
A third example- THIS ONE A REAL ONE. Assistant Professor Fulani wa Fulani is FLUENT in a certain language and in fact has part of his heritage in Community X. Yet, like a JAJUOK, he remains a FIXTURE on Discussion Board P where 123% of his postings consist of tribal rants, raves, gossip and innuendo.
A fourth example. FREQUENT POSTER 45XT lives in Nairobi and makes a point of touting his cosmopolitan credentials. In fact, he goes out of his way to berate the notorious overt tribalists from his own ethnic community. Yet, if you carefully study his postings, you will notice one consistent pattern. He acts as a volunteer spin doctor for certain top ranking politicians back home who come from a certain region and range of communities in the country and will always pose apparently neutral probing maswali about certain prominent politicians from a community that is perceived to be hankering to undermine the other community.
Most, if not all of the above examples come from members of the so called BIG TRIBES who are the BIGGEST CULPRITS when it comes to online ethnic chauvinism.
But there is also the bigotry, borne of resentment that is exhibited by members of the ethnic minorities largely targeting this or that BIG TRIBE. I have referred to two members of a certain community and I do not wish to belabour the point.
What drives the tribalism of Kenyans abroad?
Surely it cannot be anything like the gunfights in the semi-arid regions of Kenya where pastoral communities come into conflict over scarce resources, cattle rustling and other age old feuds.
Many of these tribalists have never and will never meet their online ethnic adversaries. They are not lacking in material resources and frequently these are individuals who are relatively well off and are definitely not driven by economic desperation. In a couple of bizarre cases, they may even be married to spouses from the communities they detest. A few years ago, one Kenyan woman shared with me her shock to find out that the “cosmopolitan” boyfriend she was dating from community dash dash was the very same deranged idiot who was attacking her cousin on the other side of the Atlantic on a daily basis! This is not the place to go into details of what happened next.
So what drives these Kenyan Tribalist Abroad in their diurnal and nocturnal acts of ethnic vindictiveness and small mindedness?
I think the answer can be gleaned by looking at the desperate contestations for political territory going on furiously as we speak among different sections of the Kenyan comprador and petit-bourgeois elite.
As we have argued elsewhere, our dependence on imperialism has made it virtually impossible to develop a viable national economy that is self-sustaining. From the daily scandals which come to the fore, the ticket to the Comprador Paradise Bonanza in Kenya is purchased at the Grand Graft Box Office and you have to TKK the overfed ticket sellers and TKK the gate-keepers and TKK the ushers and TKK the concession cashiers and sometimes TKK the relatives, the ndogo ndogos, nyumba ndogos, mahawara, boy toys, cooks and messengers of the real gate-keepers.
Since there is only so much one can loot in the course of the life of one elected government, there is a feeding frenzy, a veritable Corruption Olympics that kicks off virtually from the second a new Kenyan comprador/petit-bourgeois gang assumes office.
It should be appreciated that that these fat cats are NOT THEMSELVES parochial nor do they HATE other tribal communities. Oh no. These are genuine Kenyan urbanites who will play copulate across tribal lines and golf with anyone ready to offer or receive a bribe.
But you see, the Bonanza is circumscribed by cronyism, by nepotism, by who know.
Over the course of the last 40 years, the most “efficient” conduit of cronyism and nepotism is tribalism.
And mark you:
While it may be NECESSARY to belong to the “right” ethnic community, that ALONE is NOT SUFFICIENT to grant you access and looting privileges. You must in addition, KNOW THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT TRIBE- and that rarely comes free of charge.
For instance as we speak, there are TWO SEPARATE ethnic based band of organized poliitcal criminals around Kibaki who are, behind the scenes, fighting each other as VICIOUSLY as they would keep out any perceived hostile ethnic strangers. One group is coalesced around the likes of Wanjui and other old buddies of Kibaki from the DP days. And they are affiliated with one of the two First Ladies. Then there are the upstart back room boys, a younger, hungrier and greedier bunch who want to grab it all before Kibaki drops dead. Their linchpin is Chris Murungaru. And just to complicate matters a little bit, there is a semi-autonomous Meru cartel connected to Kiraitu who seem to be having the upper hand when it comes to certain public appointments.
Around these three contingents of the elitist group that has been dubbed the Mount Kenya Mafia(note that this does not refer to entire members of the Gikuyu, Embu, Meru, Chuka, Tharaka and other ethnic communities from "The Slopes” but rather, to those privileged members who coalesce around the above named elite forces. For instance, despite being a bona fide Mgikuyu, neither Uhuru Kenyatta nor Joseph Nyagah nor JJ Kamotho is part of the Mount Kenya Mafia. I do not think that Prof. Wangari Maathai belongs in this exclusive male dominated club either. And the other, equally prominent professors like Ngugi, Micere and others would be ARRESTED ON SIGHT and charged with TRESSPASS if they ever APPROACHED the entrance of the Mount Kenya Mafia Club. It is important to emphasize the class, ideological and partisan nature of this elitist club.
And let us not underestimate the so called Rift Valley Mafia. They are the LONGEST RULING CLIQUE in the country and they are entrenched in certain sections of the state where they will not be dislodged. At the moment the RVM still cannot really reconcile itself fully with the “Raila Betrayal” that is why you see William Ruto cozying up to Kiraitu. And they do not know how to handle Uhuru Kenyatta’s growing national stature. Things will be clearer once the contest for the Chairperson has been resolved.
And just outside this KANU INA WENYEWE club there are at least two similar clubs in Luo Nyanza who would immediately comprise the Lake Victoria Cartel if they were in the same position as the MKM. One camp, the larger one, is coalesced around Raila Odinga and his LDP associates and its members are well known.
Then there is another wing that has no discernible leader but whose chief exponent would be Raphael Tuju. These are fairly well educated and well to do Luo professionals, businessmen and politicians who were locked out of LDP because they were in KANU, Ford People or some of the NAK affiliated formations. Currently they their mantra is “Luos are tired of the politics of confrontation, we want some development. Let us give Mwai Kibaki a chance”- even as they inch their snouts closer and closer to the feeding troughs where other pigs are gorging. Being pragmatists, you will never see the Tujuites publicly attacking Raila. They are more interested in cultivating business and professional ties with other sections of the NAK elite.
There are two other clubs in Ukambani-one connected to Ngilu and Kivutha on the one hand and the other one definitely led by Kalonzo Musyoka. The Kalonzo gang needs the Raila forces in Luo Nyanza, but they have their own ambitions centred on a Kalonzo Presidency. It would appear as if the Ngilu/Kivutha forces have hitched their wagon directly to the NAK camp which they are a part of. Do not be surprised if Kivutha Kibwana makes a bid to be the Kamba card to thwart a Kalonzo run for State House come 2007.
Among the Abaluhyia elite, confusion reigns. Common sense would have suggested that the Luhyia elite unite around Moody Awori while working out an Intra-Ingo MOU about who would be who in the whole Machiavellian machinations of which Luhyia should go after the number two slot. From the look of things, the ambitious Mukhisa Kituyi is still smarting after being outsmarted by the thoroughly spineless Musikari Kombo in the recent Ford-K sweepstakes. Kituyi’s trump card may be to wean the Biwott faction away from KANU to bolster his standing in NAK proper before making his own move which may be more like the Kingmaker role of Raila in 2002 rather than embarrassing himself in an electoral contest where victory is precluded because of his widespread ill reputation as an arrogant son of a gun. Kombo like I said, is a Dereva Kombo who is going kombo kombo and will land fatally in a ditch together with his co-driver Dr. Bonny Khalwale within the course of the next eighteen months. Martin Shikuku’s attempt to cobble Katiba Watch into a negotiating vehicle to re-enter the Kenyan political mainstream will be thwarted by his own myopia. I predict that the next political superstar in Luhyia land is not even in mainstream politics yet-I am talking about the youthful Ababu Namwamba. He is the person to watch and one of the most likely to emerge as a NATIONAL political figure over the next four years. He is principled, gutsy, patriotic and from the look of things, above ethnic parochialism. Another person to watch is Professor Oniango.
Among the Abagusii, we saw Simeon Nyachae cut his own throat by agreeing to join the Kibaki cabinet on terms not of his own choosing. If I had been the FORD-People head honcho, I would have insisted on a formal MOU and would have been more sensitive to include the Non-Kisiis (apart from traditional sidekick Kones) like Mwandawiro and Rai in a package deal and I would have used this MOU to position myself for a more powerful bid for the Presidency after watching the self-destruction of NARC. As matters stand, Nyachae has joined and become an active supporter of the most criticized wing of the Kenyan government-at a time when he has been named by Pattni. We know that there are more than a few also rans in Kisii Nyanza who were not part of the FORD-P juggernaut-these were either DP, Ford-K or KANU heavyweights who are slowly rebuilding their political bases. And do not dismiss the children of the icons of yesteryear- the junior Onyonkas, Nyamweyas and the like. They too are plotting their moves.
The Kenyan Coast is pretty fluid. There are the NAK attack dogs like Mungatana, Maitha, Mwakwere, Rai and the like, And then you have the Balalas, Khamisis and their associates in addition to a third force that would be linked to the unregistered IPK and a fourth independent force that may or may not develop around my buddy Mwandawiro.
The North Eastern, South Asian, Maasai and other elite from the other Kenyan communities will chart their own paths in relation to the wider power plays in NAK, LDP and KANU...
Those of us who are on the Kenyan Left are the WEAKEST and LEAST ORGANIZED, but watch out: if we DO GET OUR COLLECTIVE ACT together, there WILLL BE A NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION in Kenya within the next SIX YEARS. For a simple reason: the WANANCHI are far, far ahead of ALL OF THESE ELITIST groupings, and if a credible SOCIALIST LEADERSHIP emerges, Kenya is MARWA. And you can quote me on that.
To come back to my point about Kenyans abroad:
They take their tribal cues from moves the above gangs make.
That is the key to understanding their deranged yelps from sun up to sundown and throughout the night.
Let us take, as a case study, the current needling, wheezing, whining and gnashing of teeth around Raila Odinga and the moribund Molasses Plant.
NONE of these JOKERS in Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Nairobi are the LEAST BIT INTERESTED in FIGHTING GRAFT. Some of them are up to their gills in it, especially if one takes a closer look at the ECONOSNOGATE.
Their yelps and brays that Onyango Oloo should compose a “digital” denouncing Raila Odinga is powered by a twin motive-divert attention from the HARD QUESTIONS people have been asking about Anglo Fleecing and the telephone scandals and Two, use the old Bogey Man Raila Odinga to rally the Bantu troops to wage another USELESS tribal skirmish punctuated by a two faced Luophobia.
Fortunately, Kenyans are NOT IDIOTS and this so called Molassesberg is going to collapse like the house of cards that it is.
It is actually sickening to log on to certain Kenyan forums and WITNESS some people who were busy picketing Moi barely three years ago defending that INSENSITIVE JACKASS Mwakwere who has refused to apologize to fellow Muslims for blatantly misleading them. The Kenyan Foreign Minister has NO IDEA about the coming anti- imperialist upheaval that is SIMMERING all over the Coast Province and he may as well enjoy his stint in the cabinet now while looking for a productive goat to milk after 2007.
Many of these KBAs (short for Kenyan Bigots Abroad) are dreaming of big pay days ahead. They are just making up their minds about whose MATAKO they should be SLURPING.
I mean, just contemplate this phenomenon:
There are THREE KENYANS ABROAD about to be BEHEADED IN IRAQ.
Have you heard ONE EEK or ONE SQUEEK from the KCA, the KCO or any of the organizations that presumably speak for Kenyans abroad DO ANYTHING CONCRETE to TRY AND SAVE these compatriots from the swords of the Iraqi kidnappers?
Not a chance.
Some of the leading members of these organizations are the VERY SAME NEOCONS who log on anonymously to praise Bush for INVADING IRAQ!
Kenyan Muslims do not matter!
Some of these leaders were among the earliest SUPPORTERS of Bush’s’ War on Terrorism and many of them quite frankly see Kenyan Muslims as the enemy within-along with those pesky Luos.
Of course they are now going to pee on themselves as they make a bee line for my neck.
Well, sharpen your poisoned arrows and do some target practice because Onyango Oloo is going nowhere.
8:22 PM EST
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
ps: for the umpteenth time someone asked me to justify why i think Raila Odinga is the most EFFECTIVE politician in the Kenyan mainstream today. i already told them elsewhere that i answered this question at precisely 3:26 am on Xmas Eve 2003: